Cape club looks to increase numbers

Tuesday, April 6, 2004

The Cape Girardeau Country Club on March 22 kicked off a nine-week membership drive. It may be the last time the club launches such a concerted campaign.

Around the time the effort ends, Cape Country Club may have hired its first club manager. That position will be charged with member recruitment and member services on a year-round basis, said Gerald Jones, president of the club's board of governors.

"We want to concentrate on membership year-round as opposed to certain times of the year," Jones said. "This position will have to understand food and beverage, understand marketing, be able to conduct a membership program year-round, hire and supervise a staff and meet the needs of membership."

Jones said a national firm is assisting with the search.

The club's goal is to provide services for its members while also taking a long-range view of membership services.

With that in mind, Jones said the emphasis of this membership drive is the younger crowd and families. Initiation rates have been set at a rate intended to entice those under 30.

"We're seeking the young golf members to revive this old place," Jones said. "We're after the young person who likes to play golf, either well or not so well. We're trying to give the club a more family atmosphere. We want to have activities for kids at the pool and tennis courts. We'd like to get more utilization out of our facility."

Cape Country Club, he said, already has an active women's association. Jones said the club's membership is "unusually even" in its male-female ratio.

Jones, in his second year as president, takes a lot of pride in the facility. The 83-year-old club, he said, holds up well in a competitive private golf field in Cape Girardeau County -- which has more private courses than public.

"We like to think we're the only country club in the area with full amenities," said Jones, mentioning the pool, the tennis courts, the driving range, the formal and casual dining areas in the 40-year-old clubhouse.

But the club is willing to adjust in the face of competition. With Dalhousie Golf Club now up and running, Cape County Club's membership fell from highs of 440 to 393.

"I happen to be of the opinion there's room for everybody," Jones said.

Cape Country Club has upgraded its course, particularly fairways for holes Nos. 3 and No. 4. Among the changes on those two holes are white sand bunkers, which drain better and are being used as a test to see whether the membership wants to replace the brown sand in its other traps. Located along the Mississippi River, Jones said the grounds crew continues to work on improving drainage in areas of the course.

But Jones said direction for the club also may come from new, young members that come aboard.

"With private clubs, the needs change quite a bit," he said. "In the 1920s, people didn't have pools, and now people have those kinds of things. People's demands change.

"As the younger membership grows, we'll see changes to meet the demands of those members."

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